Documentary about a bricklayer who, during the Stalinist era in the mid 1950s, was encouraged by the Party to further the Communist cause by becoming an exemplary worker (Stakhanovite). In flashbacks from scenes of his participation in a 1970s May Day parade, he recalls how, as a young activist, he was promoted to an office job. “I became a jack-in-the-office, instead of an activist... I got a desk job and gasped for breath, I had to let in fresh air through the window... And then came the year 1956, and everything tumbled down all of a sudden. It was a little painful. The question was: What now? And in 1956 I asked them to relieve me and send me back to my job in production. I returned to where I had come from.” An idealistic youth, exploited by ruthless ideology - in a film of subtle political nuances.
"Who are you?" and "What would you really want?" - two questions Kieslowski put to Poles from various social backgrounds, and in age between 2 and 100. Nearly every answer and the film as a whole reveal a more or less strong desire for freedom and justice. In reality, there is frustration and powerlessness.
Night Porter's Point of View
In this film we see and hear a middle-aged night watchman. We see him at work, but particularly in his spare hours, when he puts his predilection for checking on others into practice. For example, he checks anglers on the possession of a fishing licence, and in the afternoon he stands guard near cinemas to catch school kids playing truant. If he spots something that is not quite right he reports it to the police. Kieœlowski: "This film deals with the individual willingness to fascism".
This very special film follows the talks as a result of the appeal lodged by a Party member against his expulsion. Inspired by the liberation from fascism by the Soviet troups, he had conscientiously and actively devoted himself to setting up socialism in Poland. But his own ideas and feelings and those of his colleagues in the factory conflicted with the Party's viewpoints prescribed from above. His past is deeply dug into to bring forward earlier indications of his disloyal attitude.
Warsaw Central Station: a prism which reflects the problems of modern life. For three quarters of an hour - the duration of the evening news on Polish TV - the filmmaker shot images of this train station. The TV-monitors objectively convey the tumult, the agitation, the chaos...
A reportage about a bureaucratic 'working session' at the Ursus Tractor Factory, counterpointed by images of the workers' activities. For Kieslowski, the factory workers are the heroes of the film. Due to delays, bureaucracy and defects it is impossible to work efficiently.
From the City of Lodz
A film about the everyday life in Lodz, the centre of textile industry. By means of showing images of the street, the factory and a concert in the park, Kieslowski attemps to evoke the specific atmosphere of Lodz and to touch upon certain problems its inhabitants have.
Seven Women of Different Ages
Each day of the week is represented by a ballerina beginning with a young child and ending with an older ballet teacher.